Improving Clinical Communications Between Primary and Secondary Care Clinicians

10th January 2018

Effective communications between clinicians working across organisational barriers is vital to providing integrated, coordinated, patient-centred care, and for delivering the best experience of care and outcomes for patients. There are currently many barriers (cultural, professional, technical, information governance, administrative and financial) to seamless and efficient communication in spite of technical advances and the potential benefits.

In recognition of this, the Sussex and East Surrey STP sought a clinical senate review of how patient-related communications between clinicians could be optimised across its footprint. The review’s focus was on three primary means of communicating about patient care: telephone, email, and shared access to integrated health care records. Many of the findings and recommendations in this report relate simply to the better use of existing modes of communication, more reliable processes, and greater transparency and ease of access to each other. In addition, the importance of clear and timely discharge summaries and clinic letters, co-development of patient pathways, and more opportunities for GPs and consultants (in particular) to interact face to face, will result in higher quality care, a better understanding of each other’s ways of working and needs, and a reduction in avoidable and time consuming supplementary requests for advice.

Whilst the review focussed on the inter-professional communications between primary and secondary care clinicians, many of the findings would equally apply to communications with community health care and social care professionals. Furthermore, whilst this review was undertaken for a specific STP, the issues identified, and the recommendations, can equally apply to other STPs across the country, though recognising that different areas and organisations have evolved their own ways of working, and may require different solutions and focus from others: one size certainly does not fit all.  The benefits of STP-wide solutions and approaches to this issue should be emphasised, and would contribute to the shared clinical culture and practice that STPs can foster. 

Improving clinical communications between primary and secondary care clinicians.pdf

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